Three children were killed after a mortar shell they mistook for a toy exploded in a field in Pakistan's northwestern Swat valley, police said Thursday.
The district was under the de facto control of the Pakistani Taliban in 2007-2009 until a military operation ended their rule, and has since seen sporadic terrorist attacks.
"The shell exploded when the children were playing with it and some started hitting it with stones," Sayed Wali Khan, a local police official in Swat, told news agency AFP.
Khan said one child was immediately killed in the explosion -- which occurred in Nela Gram village on Wednesday -- while two others died in a local hospital.
The dead included two brothers and their cousin, aged between four and nine years old. Three others sustained injuries and were receiving medical treatment.
The Swat valley was home to Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai.
When it was held by the Pakistani Taliban they imposed a harsh brand of Islamic law, and carried out public floggings and executions.